Editor's Letter | The Excess Issue - December 2016
This month has been all about taking it to extremes
It’s easy to get carried away over the festive period. Whether it’s drinking too much at parties, eating your own bodyweight in turkey and trimmings or overindulging in the orgy of consumerism that is Christmas shopping, there’s no doubt that this is the season of excess.
Our December issue has embraced this, looking at excess in the world of adventure sports from all different angles - the good, the bad and the decidedly ugly.
Ever thought of leaving your chalet host a 7,500 euro tip? Or hiring your kids a litter of puppies to play with while they’re on holiday – complete with their own doggy nanny to look after them? Or asking staff to turn a blind eye while you spend a week with identical twin prostitutes behind your wife’s back? Nope, neither have we. And yet as they told Ollie Peart, these are all of these are things that luxury chalet staff have actually experienced.
"Ever thought of asking staff to turn a blind eye while you spend a week with identical twin prostitutes? Nope, neither have we."
For these super rich individuals the skiing seemed to be a secondary concern – it was all about the excessive lifestyle that goes with it. But of course that’s not always the case - just because you’re wealthy, doesn’t mean you can’t be a talented skier, or a committed athlete.
This month Associate Editor Jack Clayton travelled to St. Mortitz in Switzerland, best known as a playground for playboys and the moneyed elite to talk to the people behind the Cresta Club, the world’s most exclusive sledding society. The men he met (and it was just men, the Cresta doesn’t allow women as members) were undoubtedly wealthy. But they were also dedicated, talented and committed to pushing the boundaries or their own particularly extreme sport in a way that any adventure activity enthusiast can relate to.
The likes of John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara (winner of the 1955 Cresta Cup) couldn’t more different to Andrew Cotton, the plumber turned big wave surfer who Deputy Editor James Renhard interviewed as part of his piece on Nazaré this month. Yet Cotton and the other big wave specialists who flock to this tiny Portuguese fishing town would all surely recognise the Baron’s desire to push himself to extremes and test his limits against the forces of nature.
"He talks candidly about his addiction to crack cocaine, and how his excessive behaviour nearly cost him his life."
This characteristic, a willingness to go to extremes that some would consider excessive, is something you find often in top adventure sports athletes. While it’s obviously a huge asset for these activities, it can be dangerous if it’s not given a constructive outlet. This month Senior Editor Sam Haddad interviewed Charlie Engle, a man who’s run across the Sahara and obviously relishes pushing himself to extremes. He talks candidly about his previous addiction to crack cocaine, and how his excessive behaviour nearly cost him everything – including his life.
This month’s issue also contains a fascinating look at how Photoshop and the excessive use of filters has changed photography and the expectations of travellers. Also, in a season where excessive over-eating is very much par for the course, we took a look at what happens when you can’t eat. Olly Davy embarked on a bushcraft course which saw him surviving off wild garlic and nettle tea, all the while dreaming of Dominoes.
Interestingly despite literally starving himself, both he and Daniel Wildey (who also contributed to the story) found that there is something deeply rewarding about fending for yourself, preparing your own food and stripping it all back. In a season where excess is actively encouraged, this idea - that the best things in life are often the simplest - is an appealing one.
There’s definitely a time and a place for excess, but after what feels like a month of eating and drinking too much I’m looking forward to cutting back in the New Year. As I write this I’m sat on a plane bound for Kazakhstan where I’ll be spending the first week of 2017 splitboarding from a remote lodge near the Mongolian border. No pistes, no lifts and no mobile phone reception – all excesses stripped away. At the moment, I can’t think of anything better.
We hope you’ve had an excellent Christmas and enjoy a great start to the New Year. See you in 2017!
Enjoy the adventure.
- Tristan, Editor-in-Chief